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Future of Work

Taxi firms Addison Lee and Uber have announced new safety measures as the government looks to ease coronavirus restrictions and people return to work. Addison Lee will fit perspex partition screens between drivers and passengers across its 4,000 vehicles next week. And Uber is paying the AA to install partitions in 400 cars in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham as part of an initial pilot.

Both firms are also distributing free protective equipment to drivers. The plans follow calls for improved protections for drivers and passengers.

“We know there is significant demand from drivers, passengers, businesses and the general public for more to be done to make transport cleaner and safer as we go back to work – including calls for the introduction of partition screens into private hire vehicles,” said Liam Griffin, chief executive of London-based taxi firm Addison Lee. “That’s why we have taken the decision to begin rolling out the installation of safety screens between drivers and passenger seats.”

Ride hailing taxi app firm Uber said its pilot in the North East of England was crucial for the company to get a better understanding of how to carry passengers on journeys as safely as possible.

On Wednesday, Transport for London (TfL) updated its guidance for taxi and private hire vehicle firms.The regulator is advising firms to have drivers and passengers socially distance, with passengers sitting in the back seats of cars. It advised drivers to carry a bottle of hand sanitiser gel in their vehicle that contains at least 60% alcohol.

However, when it comes to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks, gloves or partition walls, TfL said it is waiting to hear from the London Strategic Coordination Group (SCG) on recommendations before mandating additional coronavirus prevention and control measures for taxis and private hire vehicles.

Many firms have already started distributing PPE to their drivers after hearing concerns from both drivers and passengers. Uber has so far handed out over a million single-use face masks to drivers, as well as 95,000 cleaning sprays. And in the coming weeks, it will hand out another two million masks.

Unilever is teaming up with Uber to distribute free hygiene kits that include antibacterial spray and hand sanitiser to drivers across the UK. “As well as working with Unilever to provide drivers with free sanitising products, Uber is distributing millions of masks and directly reimbursing drivers if they choose to source the PPE themselves,” an Uber spokesman told the BBC.

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